Science World, the Stanley Park totem poles, the digital Orca, it's all there in Elena Markelova's newest piece of art.
That piece of art is a 9 foot by 21 foot wall at University Canada West's (UCW) Vancouver House campus. Markelova just finished the huge, intricate, detailed painting, a project that took weeks.
"It all makes sense and everything is in its right place and I was so picky about it," she tells Vancouver is Awesome. "Even when I was sketching I had to use my iPhone with the 3-d map to put the buildings where they were supposed to be."
The local artist came in from Maple Ridge five days a week for more than two weeks to first sketch and then paint the gigantic piece, working up to 10 or 12 hours a day.
"I had a vision in my head of how it should turn out I couldn't stop," she says. "Some days were really hard."
At one point she had to take a day off because her hand needed a break; it would shake and she needed control to keep the details smooth.
To reach higher areas, like the Lions Gate Bridge, she had paint from a ladder. One day, near the end, she dropped her paint. The cup with blue inside tumbled to the ground with Markelova watching in horror.
"And I could see it in slow motion and I was jumping from the ladder to catch it, but not a single drop landed on the mural," she says.
Which was lucky; the painting is on a white wall and corrections would have been difficult. She doesn't use white paint, which would have been needed to cover up any mistakes. Through skill and luck, she made none.
Painting Science World was likely the hardest part she says, particularly adding colour. It got to the point where she was putting it off.
"I was so worried I'd mess it up, but when I painted it, it turned out beautiful," she says.
Markelova, who moved from graphic design to full-time art, has created map art before, but nothing on this scale. To keep everything aligned properly she used strings to mark where the streets are.
"I wanted to make sure all the streets aligned," she says. "Everything is in its right place and worked with the aerial perspective."
University Canada West contacted her after an employee saw her work a few years ago at an event. They reached out to her earlier this year.
"I was thinking of looking around, see how I can turn my art into larger scales, and there she was," Markelova says.
They showed her the wall and she planned a few sketches.
"I had a really clear idea in my head, I love doing maps," she says. "There's some special part of my brain for that. I looked at the wall and I could see it, exactly where everything would be."
While the project took under a month, the finish was an emotional one.
"There were so many emotions, I even cried a little bit when I realized 'This is it,'" she says.
The painting is on the fourth floor of the UCW building at Pacific and Granville streets. Students and visitors to the campus will be able to see it once the campus reopens in the fall. The public might catch it for a brief second as well (more, if they're walking), as they go over the Granville Street Bridge; it's visible (in the right light) from the bridge as one goes south on Granville Street after the on-ramp from Pacific Street.